Confirming the inevitable, Sunderland announced via their Twitter feed late Sunday that manager Paolo Di Canio has been fired, ending a 12-game run that saw the former Swindon Town boss win only two of his Premier League matches with the club.
With the Black Cats off to a 0-4-1 start (leaving Di Canio 2-7-3 since being hired late last season), this moved was destined to happen, especially after Saturday’s 3-0 loss at previous winless West Bromwich Albion. As Di Canio spent his time post-match interacting via hand signals with Sunderland’s beleaguered traveling support, it was hard to imagine Di Canio surviving the club’s deteriorating situation. After five rounds, the team was in last place, their -8 goal difference double that of the league’s next-worst side.
On Sunday, the club decided to take swift action:
Sunderland AFC confirms that it has parted company with Head Coach Paolo Di Canio this evening.—
Sunderland AFC (@SAFCofficial) September 22, 2013
The club simultaneously posted a statement on its web site announcing Kevin Ball will assume interim responsibilities:
Sunderland AFC confirms that it has parted company with head coach Paolo Di Canio this evening.
Kevin Ball will take charge of the squad ahead of Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup game against Peterborough United and an announcement will be made in due course regarding a permanent successor.
The club would like to place on record its thanks to Paolo and his staff and wishes them well for the future.
Between his behavior as a player and his authoritarian ways as a coach, Di Canio was always a controversial hire. His fascist political leanings also complicated matters, alienating many of the club’s support. There were no extra-competitive reasons to keep the controversial Italian.
Still, when he managed to keep Sunderland in the Premier League last season, it seemed Di Canio would have more time than this. He completely overhauled the squad this summer, with seven of the 14 players used on Saturday new to the club. Unfortunately, that overhaul produced the league’s worst defense, with the Black Cats’ three goals tying them for worst attack in the Premier League.
With the club’s terrible start, Ellis Short and Margaret Byrn couldn’t wait. And who can blame them? There were no indications the situation would get better. And as a result, the Black Cats are now in search of a coach.